Jordon Steele-John, who is set to fill Scott Ludlam’s seat in the Senate for the Australian Greens: ‘I’m capable and ready to do this job.’ Photograph: Greens
Excitement infused my veins as I read that Jordon Steele-John, a man with cerebral palsy, is next in line to be the next Western Australian Green Senator.
As a woman with a disability, this represents a huge milestone for the disability community. I strongly believe this illustrates that people with a disability are starting to be included in all areas of life.
Mr Steele-John who attends university, claimed that having a disability shouldn’t prevent anyone from achieving their goals. Mr Steele-John stated that he yearns to be a voice for people with disability.
As a person with a disability, when I was young I wasn’t aware of anyone with a disability in leadership roles. I didn’t really have role models with a disability, so having this representation is so important.
Mr Steele-John had to be creative whilst campaigning as the Greens candidate in Freemantle in 2013. He stated that door knocking may have been a challenge. However, he negotiated his way around this by distributing leaflets in a shopping centre, from a table containing campaign material.This shows that people with a disability may not use standard methods for achieving their goals. However, they can use alternative methods and achieve the same outcome.
I resonate with Mr Steele-John’s experience. I am often viewed as a person who requires care, not as a productive member of society. Not only is this disheartening for people with a disability, it also deprives society from reaping the benefits of having a highly productive workforce.
Jordon Steele-John, a 22-year-old student who has cerebal palsy and uses a wheelchair and is the frontrunner to replace Scott Ludlam in the Senate, says he wants to break down barriers that stop people participating as full and equal citizens.
Why is this exciting?
Many people, including myself, are excited with the prospect of having someone with a disability in parliament.
I strongly believe we must strive for the time when a person with a disability becomes a member of parliament and it is considered the norm.
We become enthusiastic when we see people with a disability achieve goals people without a disability are expected to achieve. When people without a disability become a member of parliament for instance, we probably wouldn’t consider this to be too out of the ordinary.
I hope one day we will simply expect people with a disability to be members of parliament and to be active participants in all areas of society. I believe there will be a time when people with disability will be included in all areas of life.
People may say I’m a dreamer. However, I believe this can be a reality.